10 Plays That Changed the Course of Week 3 in the NFL

Marc Lillibridge@NFL_BridgeContributor ISeptember 25, 2012

10 Plays That Changed the Course of Week 3 in the NFL

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    Though the NFL season is only three weeks old, there already has been enough drama to last an entire season.  With three games decided in overtime and even more games decided on the last play, Week 3 will be a season-changer for quite a few NFL teams.

    After Seattle's stunning victory over Green Bay on Monday night, here is a look at 10 key plays from Week 3.

1. Jamaal Charles' Long TD Run for the Chiefs

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    The Saints led the Chiefs 24-6 with 5:31 left in the third quarter when Charles took the hand-off from quarterback Matt Cassel.  With the football on their 9-yard line, the Chiefs looked to be out of the game.

    But behind strong blocks at the line of scrimmage by left tackle Branden Albert, who completely destroyed defensive end Martez Wilson, and on the perimeter by wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and tight end Tony Moeaki, Charles hit the hole and burst into the secondary.

    Charles hit the jets and outran safety Roman Harper for a 91-yard touchdown scamper.  This score gave the Chiefs the momentum and was the jumping-off point to their comeback win.

2. Ryan Fitzpatrick's TD Pass to Steve Johnson for the Bills

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    The Bills were leading 17-14 in the fourth quarter in Cleveland and faced a 2nd-and-goal situation from the Browns' 9-yard line.

    Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick took the shotgun snap and hit Steve Johnson on a beautiful slant route.  Johnson was being covered by cornerback Dimitri Patterson, but with a great head fake, he was able to shake him for the score. 

    The play put Buffalo up 24-14 and sealed a much-needed AFC win for the Bills.

3. LaRon Landry's Interception Return for a Touchdown for the Jets

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    The Dolphins were leading 10-3 and had control of the game before LaRon Landry's interception return for a touchdown gave the momentum to the Jets.

    Ryan Tannehill's pass was intended for tight end Anthony Fasano on a drag route across the field.  The pass was high, and Landry, who was watching and baiting the rookie quarterback, jumped the route at the Dolphins’ 18-yard line and strolled into the end zone for the tying score.

4. Tennessee Titans Defense Stuffs Lions on 4th-and-1

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    The Titans were up 44-41 in overtime,  Instead of kicking the game-tying field goal, the Lions, facing a 4th-and-1 situation at the Tennessee 7-yard line, went for the win.

    Backup quarterback Shaun Hill took the snap, but Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey was in the backfield almost immediately and forced Hill to bobble it. He then stuffed the quarterback for no gain.

5. Andy Dalton's 59-Yard TD Pass to Andrew Hawkins for the Bengals

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    With the Bengals leading the resurgent Redskins 31-24 with 7:17 remaining in the game, Andy Dalton hit Andrew Hawkins down the left seam.  Hawkins was lined up in the right slot and was being covered by rookie Richard Crawford.

    Crawford never looked back for the football and never got his hands on the smaller receiver. The 59-yard touchdown catch deflated the Redskins, and even though Washington was able to score a late touchdown, Hawkins’ score had put the game out of reach.

6. The Texans' Huge Third-Down Conversion

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    After being in control for most of the game, the Texans faced a fourth-quarter push by the Peyton Manning-led Broncos.  Leading 31-25, the Texans faced 3rd-and-5 situation at their own 25-yard line with 2:45 remaining in the game.

    If Texans QB Schaub does not make a play, Manning takes the football back with a chance for the win. But despite a strong Denver pass rush,  Schaub stays strong in the pocket and completes a pass to wide receiver Andre Johnson, who uses his strength to create separation from Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey. Johnson makes the catch for a first down and seals the win.

7. Sebastian Janikowski's Game-Winner for the Raiders

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    The favored Pittsburgh Steelers had struggled all game long to put away the Raiders before a late fourth-quarter drive by Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer set up the kick by Sebastian Janikowski.

    The Raiders had serious long-snapping issues in Week 1 but did not have any issues on Sunday. Out of the hold of punter Shane Lechler, Janikowski, stepping from the dirt infield to the grass, hit the football with his powerful left leg and split the uprights from 43 yards out.  The kick gave the Raiders their first win.

8. Dez Bryant's Huge Punt Return for Cowboys

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    The Cowboys were leading the Buccaneers 13-7 when the game-changing play occurred. Bryant, who has lobbied to get more chances as a punt returner, got his chance versus the Buccaneers. 

    With 4:59 to play, he caught the punt at the 50-yard line, started right, then shot straight up field between startled members of the Buccaneers' punt-coverage unit.  Bryant almost got into the end zone but was forced out of bounds at the Buccaneers’ 6-yard line. 

    The 44-yard return set up a Dallas field goal that put the game out of reach for the Buccaneers.

9. Pass Interference by Patriots Cornerback Devin McCourty

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    The Ravens and Patriots had an epic battle Sunday night.  But the Patriots had the lead late in the fourth as the Ravens and quarterback Joe Flacco faced a 3rd-and-9 at their own 34-yard line.

    Flacco threw a fade route to wide receiver Jacoby Jones down the right sideline.  As Jones reached up for the football, McCourty, who was beaten on the play, hit him in the chest and was instantly flagged for pass interference. 

    On the next play, Ravens kicker Justin Tucker converted a 27-yard field goal to give the Ravens a 31-30 win.

10. The No-Interception Call for the Green Bay Packers

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    In a game full of controversial calls by the referees, the game-changing play was the last one of the night.  The Seahawks had the ball on the Packers’ 24-yard line with eight seconds left to play.

    On 4th-and-10, rookie quarterback Russell Wilson was forced out of the pocket by the Packers pass rush.  Wilson wheeled to his left and threw a Hail Mary pass to the end zone.

    The Packers had five defenders in the area, and though the football looked to be intercepted by M.D. Jennings of the Packers, the referees awarded Seattle receiver Golden Tate the reception that gave the Seahawks a 14-12 win.